Teaching Jobs at Kip McGrath Scotland – English and Maths Tutors Needed

Teaching Vacancies at Kip McGrath Education Centres Scotland 2012

It has been an exceptionally busy start to the year at Kip McGrath Education Centres in Scotland.  We currently have 26 centres throughout Scotland and we offer tuition to children from primary one to Higher Grade level in English and Maths.

A number of centres have intimated that requests for tuition have risen dramatically this year and as such we need to recruit more Secondary Teachers in Maths and English to cope with demand.

Qualifications Needed

To teach Secondary English or Maths at a Kip McGrath Education Centre, you must be a fully qualified teacher with experience of teaching students at Secondary level.  You need to be a member of the General Teaching Council.

You also need to be a great teacher and love teaching. This is also an ideal opportunity for retired teachers who still wish to teach and share their knowledge with our students.

Each Kip McGrath Centre is owned and run by a qualified teacher and they are responsible for their own recruitment but please let me know of your interest, location and credentials and I will ask them to contact you in confidence.

Please contact myself in confidence at margaret.carmichael@ntlworld.com or call me on 0141 571 2517 or 07711 451 400.

Margaret Carmichael

Kip McGrath Scotland


Technology of the Future in the Classroom – Glimpse into the Future

Thanks to our Dunfermline Centre for sharing the above blog. What a fascinating insight into the future of technology.

Dunfermline Tuition at Kip McGrath Education

Technology in the Classroom

The advancement in technology within schools is incredible!  Whiteboards and ipads are becoming commonplace with ICT an important subject in the classroom.  Many children are coming home and showing their parents how to navigate a computer!

A Tablet and a Pencil!

I was watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie the other day (which was a favourite TV programme of mine from my childhood) with my children and they were very confused at what a writing tablet was for.  They were very amused to see the classroom environment from those days and astonished at the basic materials children had.

My youngest asked me “Dad, did you have to use a writing tablet when you were at school in the olden days?”  Needless to say I found this highly amusing.

Nevertheless, it made me think about the advancements in technology in schools even…

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English Education v Scottish Education? Which is Better?

Michael Gove

The English and Scottish Education systems are completely different and certainly in recent weeks, Michael Gove, The Education Secretary has come under attack.  There are many articles such as this “Michael Gove has made a cruel mess of exam grades”.  The English education system does seem to be in a bit of a turmoil but is the Scottish education system really much better? 

Less publicised but still causing headaches for many Scottish schools is the introduction of new National 4 & 5 exams introduced as part of the new Curriculum For Excellence and only time will tell if this transition runs smoothly in the next few years.

Why Scotland’s approach to publicly funded education works

I came across this interesting article online by Melissa Benn of the Guardian and I wanted to share.  I would be interested to hear your point of view.

Guardian Article in Full

Last week, a British education minister spoke eloquently of the necessity of a highly qualified teaching profession, free university learning and the vital importance of public education as a “societal, not just an individual, good”.

Michael Russell

No, Michael Gove has not had a radical change of heart over the summer break. The minister in question was Michael Russell, cabinet secretary for education in the SNP government. He and I were sharing a platform at a packed session at this year’s Edinburgh book festival on “the value of education”, with many cogent and passionate contributions from leading academics and educationalists.

The most immediate thing to strike a visitor from Planet Gove is how very different the atmosphere and assumptions are on this subject north of the border. With its proud tradition of the “democratic intellect”, long history of compulsory education and world-renowned universities, the Scots seem genuinely to value their school system.

Here one finds very little teacher-bashing and scant reference to market solutions to social problems. At the Edinburgh event, the overriding concern was how to improve access by poorer students to higher and further learning and keep universities free, despite considerable pressure from an unholy alliance of English newspapers and Scottish conservatives. There is a heartening and robust belief in publicly funded, publicly accountable high-quality education.

Is this perhaps the very reason we in England hear so little about Scotland‘s education system, bar some envious carping at its avoidance of tuition fees? While every fashionable free-schooler or educational conservative has rushed to bash underfunded Wales as proof of comprehensive failure, or bemoaned attempts in Northern Ireland to eliminate its outmoded selective system, there is little discussion of the evident strengths of the Scottish comprehensive system.

In fact, Scotland has deliberately rejected what Russell accurately labels the Germ (Global Education Reform Movement) approach so beloved of the coalition, with its commitment to privatisation, competition and deregulation.

He is rightly scathing of the “three initiatives before breakfast” policy-hyperactivity of the current English government. At the Edinburgh session he declared himself “stunned” at recently announced English plans to allow unqualified teachers into classrooms. Rigorous teacher training is at the heart of the Scottish approach, and there are plans, modelled upon the Finnish example, to require every teacher to possess a master’s in addition to a first degree.

Scotland publishes no official league tables, although individual schools obviously release their results. (Even Wales now publishes the results of secondary schools grouped into one of five bands.) The Scottish government is moving towards greater school self-evaluation and has, over the past decade, slowly rolled out a progressive “curriculum for excellence”, in stark contrast to our own government’s speedily devised, overly prescriptive and increasingly contested programmes for learning.

And it seems to be working. Results for Scottish highers, a formal examination taken between 16 and 19, have slowly climbed over the years and are up again in 2012, with no serious claims of grade inflation. From this year, pilot schemes will be rolled out, with the ultimate aim of each child learning two languages in addition to their own. And only last year, the Royal Society praised the high numbers of Scottish students – 49.7% – who study science to the higher levels, and suggested that the rest of the UK should emulate Scotland in this regard.

Denominational schooling is still a huge issue and while some indicators suggest that Scotland is better at educating its poorer students than we are in England, it remains, like all parts of the UK, dogged by an unacceptable attainment gap based on social class.

Acknowledging this, Russell points to “some spectacularly good practice” on improving the performance of low-income students in Glasgow’s toughest schools. It is an approach, says Russell, consistent with Scotland’s belief in “collaboration rather than competition”. He adds succinctly: “We do not believe that poverty is destiny. But Kipp (a reference to the US Charter model) would not work for us.”

Not perfect but improving: that seemed to be the general, modest consensus up in Edinburgh. Indeed, it may be that modesty and consensus-seeking are the hallmarks of Scotland’s approach, in marked contrast to the “quick fix”, grandstanding approach of Germ guerillas everywhere who deliberately seek to undermine public trust and confidence in the role of the state.

Scotland offers another model, celebrating both the possibilities of good government and education as a public good. As a result, it could well nudge ahead of busy old England in the years to come

Dunfermline Tutors in Maths and English

The Kip McGrath Dunfermline Centre is now open at a new location and we would like to wish them the very best of luck in their brand new premises!

Dunfermline Tuition at Kip McGrath Education

Why Parents are Opting for Extra Tuition for Children?

Many children sail through school without any problems and go on to achieve great exam results.  However this is not the case for some children and extra tuition may be required at some point.  The tuition industry in Scotland and the UK is booming and “extra tuition” should no longer hold any so called embarrassment for children and parents.  In fact many children who are tutored are high achievers who want to excel academically.

Does Your Child Need a Tutor?

As parents, trust your instinct.  There are many signs that your child may be struggling or falling behind in class:

  • Do they “hate” school and make excuses not to go?
  • Is homework a struggle for both you and your child?
  • Have they become moody or withdrawn?
  • Are they reluctant to read a book, comic or anything other than the school has…

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Tuition in Edinburgh – Fantastic Scottish Exam Results at Kip McGrath Edinburgh Central Tuition Centre

Scottish Exam Results 2012

It has been a record breaking year for Scottish exam results according to this article by the BBC.  At our 28 Kip McGrath centres in Scotland, we are also receiving texts and calls from excited students who have received the passes that they have been working so hard for in the past year.  Congratulations everyone!  There are so many fantastic success stories, we can’t possibly share them all so this week we have asked Indleeb Walayat (Indy) of Kip McGrath Edinburgh Central to be a guest blogger and share her and her students’ stories below:

Spotlight on Edinburgh Central Kip McGrath Tuition Centre

Kip McGrath Education Centres has been established in Edinburgh  for many years and we have many centres providing first class tuition in English and Maths throughout Edinburgh.

I am Indy Walayat and I became Centre Director of the Kip McGrath Edinburgh Central Tuition Centre  in January 2009 and since then the centre has grown from strength to strength.  I am a fully qualified teacher and have been teaching since 1991 and have taught from age 3 to adults. Within my employment history, I  have worked as a primary teacher, nursery teacher, Acting Principal Teacher,  teach maths to advanced Higher level and also embarked upon the chartered teacher programme.

I also employ highly qualified and exerienced teachers to tutor our English students.  Most teachers are currently teaching in local schools so have up to date knowledge of the school curriculum.

Summer School 2012

At our very successful summer school we have run sessions throughout the summer. Students from age 4 to adult have attended. Most students have attended to get a head start for the new school term and beat the summer brain drain.

Gallery of Some of our Students

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Our Successes in 2011/2012

Our students have worked incredibly hard this term and we have had record breaking numbers of children attending our centre for extra tuition in English and Maths from primary 1 to advanced Higher level.  These are a few of our proudest moments:

  • Children gaining entry to private school of choice including some gaining 100% scholarship.
  • Students with additional needs such as  autism, dyslexia and dyscalculia making fantastic progress.
  • Students coming to the centre with limited reading now being able to read, spell and write sentences.
  • One student in S2 arriving 2 1/2 years ago with the mathematical ability of a child in P2 now able to enter Intermediate 2 maths exam later this year .
  • ‘H’ who joined Kip McGrath in August last year who has advanced from being at the bottom of the class in P4 with the mathematical ability of a P1 student to now being the average.  Her school reported that ‘H’ had made more progress than any child in the school.
  • Our pre-schoolers enjoying the multisensory approach, working through early reading and writing skills and making a head start to school.
  • Children who initially were unwilling are now writing pages.
  • Children who are new to English well prepared and supported with key skills such as speaking, listening, reading comprehension and vocabulary development.

Record Scottish Exam Results 2012

This has been a fantastic year for our exam students with many students attaining 1’s and A’s in their exams this session including ‘B’. who started attending Kip McGrath to support with Int 2 maths for which she achieved an A and now also achieving A in Higher maths.  Below are a selection of text messages I have received from successful students:
  • Beth got B pass and is delighted as it has been her big worry this year. It was her lowest mark but she thought she had failed and could only Appeal with C from prelim. Now for Advanced Highers and bigger worries. She says ‘Hello and Many Thanks’.
  • Hi thank you, delighted I got a 1 thanks for your help. Megan.
  • Ellie got an a A in Maths.  Thank you for all your effort and hard work.
  • Thanks Indy. Anna was very pleased & relieved to get a B for her English Higher (plus 4 As! In other subjects!). Thanks for your help. Christine.
  • Rebecca did very well and got an A for English. Thanks for your help, Alison.
  • Hi Indy just to say thanks to you and Jim. Victoria got 7 x 1 passes and 1 x 2  pass in her exams.  The 2 pass was for Modern Studies and with your help and Jims she got a 1 for English so so pleased. Thanks, Avril.

Maths and English Tuition at Kip McGrath Edinburgh Central

If you would like to arrange a free educational assessment or find out more about our English and maths tuition at Kip McGrath Edinburgh Central, please call Indy on 0131 610 6110 or click here to visit main website. The Centre is located at 1 Huntly Street, Inverleith, Edinburgh EH3 5HB and covers the areas of Morningside, Comely Bank, Stockbridge, Blackhall, Trinity, Abbeyhill, Willowbrae, Craigleith, Sciennes, Morningside, Marchmont, Bruntsfield, Leith, Comely Bank, Meadowbank & Inverleith.

Alternative Kip McGrath Centres in Edinburgh and the East

We also have highly successful Kip McGrath centres throughout Edinburgh and East and West Lothian.  Please click on the link below to find your local centre:

Edinburgh West – Opening Autumn 2012

SQA Exam Results 2012 – What To Do If You Fail Exams Or Don’t Achieve The Pass You Expected

SQA Exam Results are Announced on 7th August 2012!

There are only a few days to go until the 2012 Scottish Exam Results are received by students in Scotland.  Waiting for important exam results like these are extremely nerve-racking for students and parents alike.  As a teacher of so many exam students, I am also waiting to hear results with a lot of expectations as I know my students were ready and capable of a great pass.

SQA Exam Results Day 2012

Exam results will be arriving by mail on Tuesday, 7th August 2012 for Scottish exam students.  For those who have chosen the option, many students will be receiving their results by an online method.  I remember when my daughter’s exam results came through in the post many years ago and she had just gone abroad on holiday.  I had to wait for over a week until she returned and opened her results!  I was desperate to open the envelope but I managed to control myself and wait patiently.  It was so worth it to see my daughter’s face  when she realised that she had passed in all of her subjects and her hard work had paid off!

What do I do if Exam Results are Not What I expected?

We hope that every student receives the exam result they were wanting but, if for some reason that does not happen, what can parents do to help their children keep their goals on track?

Scottish Exams Appeal

If you have not received the grade that your prelim and course work has expected you to, you can appeal.  Contact your school immediately.  This is advice posted from the official SQA website on who is eligible to appeal and what meets the criteria for appeal:

Before exams take  place, your school or college sends us an estimate grade (the grade they think  you will achieve). To be eligible for an appeal, you need to have achieved an exam grade that is lower than the one your school or college estimated for you. You must also meet these conditions:

  • Your estimate grade needs to be higher than a 7 (for Standard grades) or higher than a D (for Intermediates, Highers  and Advanced Highers)
  • You must have completed all parts of Course that are externally assessed. External assessments are marked by specialists hired by SQA, whereas internal assessments are marked by your own teachers/lecturers.
  • Your school/college needs to send us convincing evidence (eg a prelim) that demonstrates that you previously managed to achieve a better grade than the one you got in the real exam. The evidence must reach us by the closing date.

I have a College/University Place but I didn’t achieve expected exam results.

If you did not achieve the exam results you needed to gain a place at College or University, please try not to panic. There is a course of appeal that you can take and the phone number and email address for Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) are available at http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/32810.html.  Please talk to your lecturers and contact them for advice on how to proceed.

Another Chance?

At the end of the day, if you do not achieve the results you expected, there are other options available to you.  If you are in 4th or 5th year then speak to your Guidance Teacher and teachers.  Could you benefit from some extra tuition to help you prepare in studying techniques?  If you have not achieved  your goals this time then perhaps there is a reason for this.  Speak to your teachers and talk about your future.  How can they help you achieve your dreams?

There is always another option.  Many students take a year out to travel.  Many students are mature students who return to education in later life.  Failing or scoring poorly on an exam is something that most of us do at some point in our lives.  It is important not to dwell on this.  These things happen!.  The important thing is to decide that this is not going to happen again – I am going to make a plan and talk to my teachers, school, college, parents and this time next year I will be back on track!

Scottish Students Failing in Basic Maths According to Scottish Government Survey

Scottish Government Numeracy Report March 2012

According to a survey conducted of S2 students released by the Scottish Government this week, one in three Scottish pupils are under performing in basis maths tasks such as time and money.  Four out of ten could not add numbers in their head and was even worse with subtraction and multiplication.

The survey also revealed that those students living in more affluent areas were twice as likely to do well in numeracy compared to those in poorer areas.  Read full survey results on Scottish Government’s website.

At Primary 4 level the results are much better with only 2% of children not performing at a satisfactory level.  Questions are being asked why there seems to be such a decline in results by S2.

Scottish Government Response

Mike Russell, Education Secretary has responded to harsh criticism by Tory Education Secretary Liz Smith and and Lib Dem Education Spokesman Liam McArthur.  He admitted that “more could be done to improve literacy and numeracy and raise attainment”.  He also defended Curriculum for Excellence stating that “given that we have deliberately raised the bar with CFE – with high standards expected at each level, the strong performance of primary pupils in maths and numeracy is hugely encouraging”.  He also stated that “this high performance must also be sustained and improved through to secondary. The performance results taken from S2 pupils, who were the last cohort of pupils not to benefit from Curriculum for Excellence, shows that more is needed and the link between deprivation and attainment remains too strong.  We knew that more could be done to improve literacy and numeracy .. this is why we introduced the Curriculum”.

Opinion of Kip McGrath Scotland

Having been a teacher for over 40 years, (the past 12 at Kip McGrath Education Centres), it has been apparent for quite some time that numeracy skills have dropped in the children I and my colleagues assess.  Please note that all Tutors at Kip McGrath are fully qualified teachers.

We have still to see how Curriculum for Excellence will make a difference  and with all new curricula, we have to be patient and hope that numeracy levels within our schools improve.

One major concern parents have is that their children are no longer being assessed annually in school and they no longer receive certificates advising which level their child is working at.  Children will be assessed at end of P4 and P7 but sometimes, this is just too late to identify potential problems before High School.

At Kip McGrath, we offer a Free educational assessment of every child by a qualified teacher.  This takes up to one hour.  We will discuss our findings and advise parents any areas of weakness.  Should you and your child feel comfortable and wish to attend, an individual programme of study will be created and the child will attend an 80 minute lesson every week and be regularly re-assessed. Read more about the Kip McGrath Expert Programme.

To find your local Kip McGrath Centre, click on a link on the Right Hand Side or alternatively use our Postcode Finder.

Margaret Carmichael

Scottish National Exam Delays – Will Cash Injection Announcement stop Educational Crisis?

Dramatic U-turn from Mike Russell, Scottish Education Secretary

Today, Mike Russell, The Scottish Education Secretary announced that the Scottish Government would inject £3.5 million and create two extra in service days to help Scottish Secondary Schools prepare for the new National 4 & 5 exams due to be introduced in 2013-2014.  He also announced that the SQA and Education Scotland will be working together to prepare course material for all subjects which can be adapted to suit individual schools.

Education Scotland will also be undertaking an audit of Secondary Schools to establish whether they are in fact ready to introduce the National Exams on schedule.

Since East Renfrewshire Council announced they intended to delay the introduction of the National Exams by a year, there has been a huge response from Secondary teachers and The Herald Scotland reported that in a survey three quarters of teachers felt unprepared and unready.

This announcement today by the Scottish Government has been welcomed in many quarters and most are pleased that their concerns are being heard.  Mike Russell is keen for the National Exams to be launched on schedule and does not support blanket delays but admits schools will have the option to delay if they are not ready.

However, opposition to the SNP have been quick to Comment.

Labour education spokesman Hugh Henry said: “This announcement from the SNP Government is a belated but welcome recognition that there are real problems with the readiness for Curriculum for Excellence in some schools and opens the door to delaying the new curriculum.  Mr Russell has been forced into finding £3.5m to fix a mess that has been of his own making”.

Conservative education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “Two additional days of in-service training may well provide some extra classroom support for some teachers, but it comes very late in the day and it does not get to the root of the problem.”

What Does this Actually Mean?

  • £3.5million equates to approximately £10,000 per school.  Is this enough to make an impact?
  • One of the biggest issues was that teachers were having to find the time to prepare new materials for the curriculum from scratch and obviously duplication in material would be an issue.  Having nationally prepared course materials will significantly ease the burden on teachers.
  • Two more  in service days for teacher training – Great for the teachers but a headache for parents (2 more holidays?)
  • The Option to delay if an audit reveals that a school is not ready – Whilst Mike Russell insists that most schools are on track and he does not sanction a blanket delay, I wonder how many schools will actually opt to delay?  This could become very confusing for employers and Colleges. 
  • Personally, in light of the concerns that my own tutors (who teach in mainstream schools) have, I would have thought a blanket delay of a year would be the most practical solution.

My Opinion

Many of our students at Kip McGrath are S1 and S2 students and I am finding more and more parents are asking my advice and very concerned that their children will be the guinea pigs for these new exams.  Now that the concerns of teachers are out in the open and actually the Scottish Government are listening and taking action, I am more hopeful.  We have a wonderful history of great education in Scotland and I hope we maintain that with Curriculum For Excellence.

Hopefully the Scottish Government will continue to listen to Teachers and take action where appropriate to ensure our children receive the best possible education and ensure they do not suffer as a result of these changes being rushed through too quickly.  Only time will tell.

How to Study for and Pass Secondary School Exams – Top Five tips for Students and Parents

Exams in 5 Weeks – is it too late?

The countdown has begun to the 2012 Scottish Secondary Exams which commence on Wednesday 25th April.  This is a time when students and parents alike start to worry and panic can set in if the child does not feel they are fully prepared.  If this is the case, then now is the time to take action.  The student probably knows more about the curriculum than they think but perhaps the actual exam process itself is causing worry.  Students may be re-reading subject notes but their study technique is not effective.  Do they feel they have too many subjects and not enough time to prepare?  Are they stressed, anxious or distracted?

Although teenagers often do not want interference from their parents, if there are concerns perhaps it is time to sit down and ask if you can help but only in a way that does not cause additional pressure.  Offer practical advice and support.  Perhaps you can offer to mark past papers under exam situations?  If you have a busy, loud household try to ensure that study time is quiet and without distraction.  Encourage your child and praise their efforts – a teenager will not learn any more if they are under pressure from parents and sulking.  Encourage them to do the best they possibly can and as long as they put in the effort, you will be proud of them.

5 Weeks to Go to Exams- The countdown has begun!

Time is tight and students should have already been preparing but here are our top tips to help students get on track and be as prepared as they can be:

1.    Find out the dates for each exam and note them in either a computerised or written diary

2.    Create a timetable for studying.  Work around extra curricular activities and choose a maximum of two hourly slots to dedicate to studying a particular subject when distractions are at a minimum

  • Do not study for more than 2-3 hours at a time and ensure you take regular snack breaks
  • Follow the timetable religiously and make sure your family also knows your timetable and you are not to be disturbed
  • Turn off mobile phones and other distractions like loud music

3.    Be organised – prepare proper notes.  In class, students will probably by now be revisiting the Curriculum. It is important to take proper notes in class:

  • Highlight any points when the teacher says “this is important”!
  • Highlight any areas you feel you have a weakness or don’t fully understand – When home make sure you read about this and fill in the blanks
  • If your notes are messy and incomplete, when you get home, rewrite them as bullet points in your own words (don’t just copy) and do some further research online or from books to gain as much information as possible.

4.     Past Papers

  • Obtain past exam papers for the last 5 years and sit one now but ensure you are uninterrupted and that timescale is adhered to.  Do not refer to notes and cheat.  Have someone mark your score realistically using the score guidelines
  • If there are questions that you do not perform well in, make sure you concentrate on these areas for next study practice and learn it.
  • Try another test paper and repeat the same
  • Practice makes perfect – Study the results and try to notice a pattern of what examiners are looking for.
  • Getting used to what examiners are looking for in each subject will help you

5.   The Week of Exams

  • Exams may take place over the course of a few weeks – Once you have sat an exam do not dwell upon it and move on to the next.  If you think you have failed or done badly, there is nothing you can now do but prepare for the next.  Most students think they have done badly but can sometimes be very pleasantly surprised
  • Ensure you eat well and get plenty of sleep – there’s no point in worrying now – you can only do your best
  • Do not listen to stories from fellow students.  It does not matter how they perform – only how you do.  They do not know how prepared you are and deep down they will be as uptight as you, even if they choose not to show it.

After the Exams

After the exams, take some time out for yourself and enjoy the summer.  Results will come and for now there is nothing you can do so relax.  When the big day comes, if you have received the results you wanted then a huge congratulations is deserved.  If your results are disappointing then it is not the end of the world.  You have time and options to get there.  Next year you should be more prepared.  My colleague has written a very good blog on this subject on how to deal with disappointing exam results. and we will follow up on this soon with our own tips.

Kip McGrath English and Maths Tutors – Why Choose Kip McGrath Education Centres?

Is a Tutor Qualified & Regulated to teach children?

This may seem such a simple and logical question but you may be very surprised to know that the tuition business is unregulated and that anyone can advertise their services as a tutor.  Many tutors offering their services call themselves “instructors” and this applies to both private tutors as well as multi-national tutoring centres.  The majority of these “instructors” are not qualified teachers.  Many do not have the qualifications or skills to prepare lesson plans and actually teach your children.  If they are not a qualified teacher, how can they possibly assess your child properly and work with the teaching curriculum? Many international tutoring centres offer repetitive worksheets which parents mark.  This may be fine for some students who need help with their times tables but for most children who are falling behind, this just isn’t enough.

Is a tutor qualified?

In addition to being unqualified, private tutors can also set up a tutoring business without undergoing an enhanced disclosure check or declaring their income for tax purposes. You would not entrust your child with an unregulated childminder or without taking references out  so why should tutoring be any different?

How can you make the right choice when choosing a tutor for your child?

Here is a check list to help you make the right decision as originally posted by my Kip McGrath colleague in Lisburn.

  • Is the person a member of the General Teaching Council of Scotland?  Ask to see their certificate of registration as this is also proof that they have been properly police checked.
  • Can they conduct an assessment to allow them to gauge exactly where your child’s strengths and weaknesses lie?  This is essential to ensure that the tuition is targeted at the correct level to enable the tutor to bring your child up to a level that is appropriate in their class or for a test.  All children are different and come to tuition with different levels of ability and therefore the starting point is never the same.
  • What feedback will the tutor provide me?  One of the benefits of having your child tutored should be that unlike school you receive detailed feedback after each lesson.  This allows you to discuss their progress and any areas that your child is struggling in.
  • What resources will the tutor be providing?  Make sure the resources that are being used are up to date and appropriate for the curriculum that your child is following.  Will the tutor be able to cater for the specific learning needs of your child – a wide range of resources should be available including professionally designed worksheets, modern textbooks, computer software and multi sensory learning aids.  If you are having your child tutored for a test ask about the types of past papers being used and the other materials used to reinforce this.
  • Where will the tuition take place?  Will the tuition take place in your house/their house – in which case you will have to make sure that the area chosen is quiet and without distractions.  Or will the tuition be provided in a professionally equipped tuition centre?
  • Is the tutor paying their taxes?  Ask no questions and I’ll tell you no lies is not always the best policy!  It is easy to turn a blind eye and say this doesn’t matter, however please bear in mind that tax is paid by you and I so that money is available to spend on public services used by everyone and that this year the government is having a crack down on tutors that do not pay their taxes.

At our Kip McGrath Education Centres in Scotland we provide parents with peace of mind.  Our tutors are:

  • Fully qualified and registered with the General Teaching Council of Scotland.
  • We provide a FREE assessment that enables us to identify any strengths and weaknesses and develop a programme of study designed to target these areas and bring your child up to a level that allows them to be comfortable in their class or to achieve their academic goals.  Assessment is ongoing and embedded in every single lesson.
  • We provide detailed feedback after each lesson.
  • Our centre is professionally equipped with a wide range of resources including professionally designed worksheets, modern textbooks, computer software, multi sensory learning aids, a wide range of past papers and appropriate stationary.
  • Tuition is provided in a professionally equipped centre where every care has been taken to create an atmosphere conducive to learning.
  • We are professional tutors and that means that as well as being fully qualified, highly experienced and well equipped, we also pay our taxes.

Finding a Kip McGrath Centre in Scotland

To find a local Scottish Kip Centre, either click here, choose from the list of centres on the right or use our postcode finder.  To read more about the programmes in English and Maths we offer, please click here.

Scottish Children’s Book Awards – Children Choose the Best Scottish Books

The winners of the Scottish Children’s Book awards 2011 were announced yesterday in Edinburgh in a hall packed full of Scottish Children.   I watched the highlights on STV News (click to watch video) and how I wished I could have been there to see so many children take delight in their love of reading!

What is even more wonderful is that all of the books nominated were read and voted for by 23,000 children in Scotland,which is up by 42% on last year. Let’s hope that number will increase again for next year’s vote and inspire many children to develop a true love of reading!

The winners were:

Bookbug Readers (Category 0-7)

Dear Vampa by Ross Collins is a beautifully illustrated book about a family of vampires.  The little boy vampire writes to his Grandpa and is amazed at the strange new family who have moved next door.  They are very different! They even stay out all day in the sunshine.  Perhaps he shouldn’t have passed judgement too quickly because they may not actually be as different as he thinks.  Definitely a book for the older kids in this category.

Young Readers (Category 8-11)

Zac and the Dream Pirates by Ross Mackenzie -Everybody dreams. That’s the problem. Good dreams are sweet. Bad dreams are scary. But what happens when the worst sort of nightmares take over? Zac Wonder is about to find out. On the stroke of midnight, he follows his mysterious grandmother into the worst blizzard for fifty years, and winds up discovering an extraordinary world on the other side of sleep. Is he still dreaming? Has he gone nuts? Or is he really meant to save us all from the devious dream pirates who threaten to hijack our dreams…and turn our lives into a waking nightmare?

Older Reader Catgeory (12 – 16)

Jack worships luck and decides his actions by the flip of a coin. No risk is too great if the coin demands it. Luck brings him Jess, a beautiful singer who will change his life. But Jack’s luck is running out, and soon the stakes are high. As chance and choice unravel, the risks of Jack’s game become terrifyingly clear. An evening of heady recklessness, and suddenly a life hangs in the balance, decided by the toss of a coin. In the end, it is the reader who must choose whether to spin that coin and determine: life or death.

Congratulations to the winners.  To read the nominees and further details, please click on the main Scottish Book Trust Website.

My Opinion

As a teacher, parent and grandparent, I have always tried to encourage book reading from an early age.  It is so important for our children’s education and to develop good literacy skills.  I feel so disheartened when a child comes to Kip McGrath who is struggling at school with English, particularly in basic reading and writing and I discover that they do not read any books at home. There was an article recently which I blogged about that according to the National Literacy Trust  4 million children in the UK don’t own a book and I posted a few book ideas for reluctant readers.

Having said that, I am so encouraged by yesterday’s Scottish Book Awards announcement and love the fact that so many Scottish children read and were discussing characters in the books with each other.  What a great incentive and I hope this is rolled out to many more children in our schools this year.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous if instead of swapping Moshi Monster cards at play break, children could be swapping books!!

Tips for Parents of Reluctant Readers

No matter how clever a child is, parents and teachers must encourage children to read for the fun and love of it.  If your child is reluctant to pick up a book what can parents do?

  • Try focusing on what interests they have and not what you think they should be reading
  • Do they watch particular television shows or films?  Many shows also have a series of books or annuals.
  • Let children read what interests them.
  • Arrange a visit to the local library and let them pick a book that interests them on any subject at all.  Let them make the choice (as long as it is age appropriate)
  • Ask your child to write a very short book report or even to choose a time when your child can tell you about the story giving your undivided attention.
  • Ask questions and be positive! Give lots of praise and attention.
  • Why don’t you choose a child appropriate book to read also and do the same?  Make it a regular fun event.
  • Let your children see that you also love to read
  • Buy book tokens for gifts

Is your child struggling with reading?

If you think that your child is not just a reluctant reader but is falling behind at school and perhaps struggling with reading and English, then perhaps there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.  At Kip McGrath Education Centres, our qualified teachers will assess your child’s abilities in a free educational consultation and will advise you of any weaknesses.  This may just give you peace of mind but if there is a problem, we will create an individual learning programme that your child will follow in conjunction with the school curriculum to help them catch up.

To find a local Kip McGrath Tutoring Centre in Scotland, use our postcode finder tool to find your local centre.

Should Scottish Government Scrap Plans for Pay Cut for Supply Teachers?

I read an article today by Andrew Denholm of the Herald Scotland entitled “New demand to scrap pay cut for teachers” which read:

Teaching unions and political opponents made the plea yesterday after a survey by Scottish Labour found 84% of local authorities did not fill all requests for short-term cover in 2011/12.

In addition, some 52% of councils also experienced problems filling long-term supply requests over the past year.

The highest rate of non-fulfillment for long-term supply was in Edinburgh, while for short-term supply the greatest problems were in West Lothian.

Of the local authorities in Scotland holding accurate records, half revealed a reduction in the number of teachers held on their supply lists.

The biggest drop in the number of supply teachers available was in Aberdeenshire, which lost 275 teachers from the supply list in one year alone. Read More.

As an employer of Scottish teachers who tutor in our Kip McGrath Education Centres, there are a number of tutors who teach for us at Kip but are also supply teachers in the Scottish Education system.  I have listened to their plight and cannot believe how badly these bright new teachers are being treated.

We normally only employ highly experienced teachers at Kip McGrath but I sometimes employ an inexperienced teacher who I believe is a star and will motivate and teach our students.  I find it so hard to believe that these bright and eager teachers full of so many wonderful ideas cannot get a full time permanent job in Scotland.

When I started teaching the world was a different place.  We could pick and choose the schools we wanted to work for.  Now everything is different and as a teacher who has had a very fulfilled life as a teacher, I genuinely feel sorry for the bright new teachers in Scotland who are struggling to find a secure, decently paid position in our Scottish Schools.

I also have had contact with this Group of Supply Teachers who are trying to raise awareness and give support. http://www.scottishsupplyteachers.com/apps/blog/

They are also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottishSupplyTeachers

Please note, I do not know anyone associated with either of these sites personally and they have no connection to Kip McGrath Education Centres but if you are a supply teacher in Scotland there appears to be a lot of support and advice on offer.

10 Tips to Help your Child Become an Independent Learner

10 Tips to help your child become an Independent Learner written by Angela Giglio of Kip McGrath Musselburgh in East Lothian, Scotland. This is a fantastic article for parents on how to encourage their children to become independent learners. Excellent advice for parents.

Kip McGrath Musselburgh blog


I’m up early this morning planning for my sessions down at Kip McGrath Education Centres in Musselburgh. Thursday is a busy day for us and I’m very much looking forward to tutoring English, French and Maths to all our wonderful Primary and Secondary students. Can’t wait to see 8-year-old Becky beat her times tables record again. She’s become so confident with the table she’s been practising that she’s even beating the Secondary kids! Way to go Becky!

 Independence in Scotland

The news in the background that Prime Minister David Cameron is visiting Edinburgh today to discuss the issue of Scottish Independence, has reminded me that I need to get back to one of my parents with a few tips on how to help her little boy become  more independent with his homework. As a former Head of Department, transforming children into independent learners was always high on the…

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East Renfrewshire Council postpone new Curriculum Exams

East Renfrewshire Council has announced that it needs more time to prepare for the new national four and five qualifications due to be introduced in Scotland in 2014 in line with the Curriculum for Excellence.  This means that pupils in East Renfrewshire could be sitting different exams to the rest of Scotland.

According to an article by BBC Scotland Education Correspondent, Seonag MacKinnon: “Confidence in the new curriculum for excellence has been dealt a blow by the decision of a flagship education authority to postpone implementation of new exams which are related to it.

East Renfrewshire Council, which records much higher numbers of exam passes than any other area in Scotland, says more time is needed to train teachers for the radically new courses.

The delay of a year is the latest set-back for the more open-ended curriculum which encourages staff to draw up most of their own lessons.

Supporters say it allows staff to teach modern material that is relevant to their pupils. But critics have suggested instructions to staff are so vague many are uncertain what they should be doing.

Under Scottish government plans, pupils now in the second year of secondary school are to be the first cohort to sit, in 2014, the national exams which replace Standard Grades and Intermediates.

But East Renfrewshire headteachers say they are uncertain of the detailed content of the exam courses due to start in August – which has yet to be unveiled by the Scottish government’s exam agency, the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

East Renfrewshire Council also plans to continue with the traditional exam timetable, putting pupils forward for eight exams in their fourth year of secondary school and five exams in fifth year. Preparation for the exams begins several years in advance”. Read rest of article.

As quoted in Gregor Hollerin’s article in The local Extra:

“A council spokesman denied the decision was a rejection of the Scottish government’s policy.

He said: “We must stress that we are not commenting on the quality of the new Nationals, but are using the distinctive characteristics of East Renfrewshire’s schools which offers our staff the opportunity of one further year.

“This will give our staff the opportunity to develop the new courses in a managed and measured way, ensuring that the experiences in the classroom will be as high a quality as they are at the moment.

“Our staff have engaged fully in the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence and the introduction of the new Nationals and will continue to do so”.

What Does this Announcement Mean?

With other councils admitting they will “reserve the right to delay”, obviously many schools are concerned they will not be able to implement the necessary changes in time. If East Renfrewshire Council who have some of the best schools in Scotland are concerned about this, then perhaps that would be an indication that a decision should be taken to delay the new Curriculum exams throughout Scotland.

Having Scottish pupils in neighbouring local authorities sitting different exams seems like a recipe for disaster.

What are your thoughts on this announcement?  We would welcome your comments.

Struggling Pupils don’t catch up according to Department of Education

In a report published by the Department of Education in England, just one in 15 (6.5%) pupils starting secondary school in England “behind” for their age goes on to get five good GCSEs including English and maths, official data shows.  Read more details of the report as reported on bbc.co.uk here.

Obviously this report applies to the English education system.  Scotland has a completely different curriculum.  However the statement that “struggling pupils don’t catch up” is not only true for England. It applies anywhere.

The number of children our qualified teachers at Kip McGrath assess who are struggling with basic literacy and numeracy skills is a concern, especially in those pupils making the transition from Primary seven to S1.

This is one of the main reasons students come to Kip McGrath (or any tutor for that matter).

At what level is your child really performing academically?

Early intervention with a structured consistent approach is necessary.  Reading problems must be tackled early since it affects maths and how the wider curriculum is embraced.

Parents must ask teachers specific questions to establish exactly how their child is performing within the class.  I hear many parents mentioning a common phrase used by teachers at parents’ night “your child is performing well at his/her level” without actually revealing which level the child is on compared to his/her classmates.  If your child is coping well but is in the bottom group for maths or English, is this acceptable to you? How can you help your child move to be “performing well” in the top group?

Is your Child Actually being Assessed?

Under the old 5-14 assessment guidelines, every student was assessed regularly and parents could see from certificates which level their child had reached and from the guidelines assess if their child was on target for their age group.  As part of Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland, this is no longer the case and I wonder if this is why we at Kip McGrath are receiving many more calls from concerned parents requesting an educational assessment by our qualified teachers.

Expectations and Aspiration

Another issue is expectation. If teachers set low expectations for children this will become a self fulfilling prophecy.  Some students have been discouraged to sit exams at certain levels as the teacher believed they would struggle.  Many parents refuse to accept this and enrol the services of a tutor.  At Kip McGrath we have heard many variations of this. This was a comment from a very happy father at our Kip Edinburgh South Centre in 2011.
OMG.  Graham got a credit 2 and Craig got an A! Thanks,thanks,thanks!  I can’t begin to tell you what you have done for my sons who both hated English.  Craig was told he was going to fail Higher English by the school and thanks to you he got an A!  Graham got a Credit 2 and now English is his favourite subject.  I have no qualms about recommending your services to the school.”
To read more examples of these testimonials please click here.

How can Parents Help Children?

Our children deserve the best education possible and in Scotland many of our schools and teachers are performing exceptionally well with excellent student exam results. Sadly, this is not always the case and many students are ‘slipping through the cracks’. Longer working hours for teachers and large class sizes contribute. Some teachers are exceptional and can motivate struggling students whilst others struggle. I would urge parents who have concerns that their child is under-performing to talk to the teacher and discuss options that you can put in place to help your child reach their full academic potential.  Don’t settle for “performing well at his/her level”. It is not too late to help your child get back on track and aspire to achieving the best education they can.

10 Questions to ask at Parents’ Evening

My colleague at Kip McGrath Luton has published a blog entitled “10 questions to ask at parents’ evening” and we would like to list the questions we feel parents should be asking of teachers:
  1. Is my child happy at school?  This means on an emotional and social basis.
  2. What is my child’s attitude to learning?
  3. Can he/she make friends easily?
  4. Does he/she contribute to class discussions?
  5. What does my child enjoy doing? Does my child prefer practical subjects (eg P.E, art, Design Tech), sciences (eg maths, science, geography) or humanities (history, English)?
  6. What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
  7. How can I help at home?
  8. Is he/she at the right/expected level for his/her age group? Don’t accept “performing at his/her level”.  Ask which group he/she is in and how you can help your child reach the top group.   If you are worried about your child having learning difficulties then bring this up as well.  If your child is getting extra support at school then ask for details so that you know exactly what is being done to help your child.
  9. For older children ask about any outstanding work and when school exams are.
  10.  How much homework should my child be getting?

What Next?

If after having talked to the school you remain unsatisfied, you may wish to consider extra tuition for your child.  At Kip McGrath, our fully qualified teachers will provide a full FREE educational assessment and will advise you exactly how your child is performing.  If you wish to enrol your child, an individual learning programme will be created to concentrate on specific areas of weakness. To read our full learning programmes and further information please visit our main website at www.kipmcgrath.co.uk.

You may also wish to consider other tutoring agencies or a private tutor.  These options are discussed in our article “Does your child need an English or Maths Tutor?” and may help you make the right choice for your child.


Margaret Carmichael is a former Deputy Head Teacher of Paisley Grammar and Master Franchisee of Kip McGrath Education Centres Scotland since 1999 and has over 40 years teaching experience in Scotland.

Power of Practice – Is talent or hard work the answer to succeed in Education?

We previously posted a blog on “How to help your child reach their full potential in life” in 2011 which was written by Angela Mitchell, a teacher and Director of Kip McGrath Cambuslang.

In our blog, we referenced an article by Mathew Syed, former three-times Commonwealth table-tennis champion.  Mathew Syed has now a best selling book called Bounce based on his view that everyone can succeed if you put in the hours and work.  He refutes the myth of the “child prodigy” and “child genius” and is adamant that practice and hard work can make any child a success, whether that be academic or sports related.

I subscribe to an excellent education blog written by Bill Boyd whose blog is at literacyadviser.wordpress.com and tonight he posted an article based on Mathew Syed’s new book called “Bounce -The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice“.  This has prompted me to re-post our earlier blog.

We would thoroughly recommend reading this book and truly believe that born talent is a myth – the key to success in all aspects of life is not ‘born talent’ but is down to hard work and practice.

However, when we are dealing with children, this advice is only good if a child is receiving support from parents at home and teachers at school.  Many children are slipping through the cracks in education and not being engaged or encouraged to reach their full academic potential.  I despair at the number of children coming to me in primary school who cannot read properly.  How can children progress to Secondary School and learn and progress if their reading and writing skills are at P3 level?  Teachers are doing their best but with class sizes so big there are always going to be children with potential who are not achieving. What do we do?

This is our original blog post from 2011. I would like to mention Carol Dweck’s input from her link http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/index.html

Praise Your Child’s Efforts

I read an interesting article the other day, written by Matthew Syed, a former table tennis champion, about how we can possibly hold our children back with the words we use and set them up for failure in the future both academically and personally.

We’ve all heard a phrase like”my daughter is not very good at maths or sports – she takes after her mother!”  People assume that talent is all about genetics and parents can unintentionally influence their childrens’ achievements by repeating this type of phrase to spare a child’s feelings if they struggle in a particular area and praise their children highly on achievements and results.

However, there has been lots of research into this subject (see link below) and it shows that every child has the potential to excel in all areas whether it be Maths, English, Science, Sports, Arts etc regardless of genetics.  The brain has the capacity to learn and excel at anything, as long as the effort is put in and encouragement given in the right way.

We need to remove the mindset in children that they have talent for certain things like sport but are not academically gifted.  This is not necessarily true – every child has the potential to be an academic given the correct teaching methods and putting in the effort.  It is very important that a child has the correct mindset and realises that effort will bring them to the top in any field, not ‘talent’.

My view as a Parent

As a parent I quickly became aware of the value of commenting on behaviour as this was something my children viewed as changeable.  They knew I was angry with the negative behaviour and I praised their effort for trying hard to change it.  Something as simple as teaching them to ride their bikes meant commenting on how hard they were trying and with practise/effort they could achieve their goal of no stabalisers. Shouting to remind my oldest about a previously learned skill, such as timing it right to put both feet down after breaking, saved her from smashing head first into a tree in the park, then praising her for working hard on this –  previously she fell off every timed she braked and nearly killed off a few cats in the process!

My view as a Teacher

As a teacher, you have to get to know the children you work with and build up a relationship with them.  However, the last thing you want is for them to perform a task just to receive praise from their teacher.  Praise can either be a bond or barrier.

Allan McLean, ‘The Motivated School’ (2010) talks about contaminated praise where a teacher gives praise with the add on of ‘but I wish you could do that all the time’ or ‘why can’t you always..’  McLean states that praise should be relevant, specific and immediate.  Praise for effort encourages children to concentrate on their learning as opposed to showing off their ability.  It teaches values and builds confidence and much research points to the fact that it is related to self-esteem.  It is important to be confident in your ability to deal with difficulties and to know you will progress if you work hard and use the correct approaches, especially when the going gets tough. Confidence in ability is only useful when pupils are doing well, therefore, praise for effort changes their mindset to cope when they come up against a challenge.

This links with Carol Dweck’s research where she states that praising effort and not talent encourages children to view challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats.  Hers and McLean’s research impacts on our beliefs about talent and influences the way we respond and think.  We need to promote the view that IQ is not fixed and the brain is like a muscle – the more we exercise it the more it grows and our skills expand with practise.

My experience at Kip McGrath Education Centres

The foregoing is at the heart of the Kip philosophy and the materials we use.  As tutors we have to remind ourselves the impact words have and can either hold back or encourage an individual.  The materials provide students with skills practise and as they move through the programmes they can experience first hand how their efforts reap rewards.

For example, I have a young student who is dyslexic.  The computer programmes use a multi sensory approach where he hears, sees, touches and responds.  The written materials provide practise and the tutor teaches the skills and approaches to use when meeting new challenges.  He told me he hated language work in school but after coming to Kip for a while he now likes to read books and enjoys sitting in the library corner at school.  He knows he finds reading challenging but now has the confidence to use his skills and knowledge about language to tackle words when reading.  His mindset has changed.  He views himself as a reader and believes if he works hard and keeps practising his skills will expand.  He no longer believes he can’t read because he is not as clever as the other children in his class but is something he can work hard on.  His mum told me today that his class teacher can’t believe the difference in his attitude.  He contributes in class, asks for help and is determined to succeed.  He still has many challenges to face but with the support of his tutor, the Kip materials and praise targeted to his effort he has the capacity to deal with the learning challenges he faces.

Getting it Right

As a person I am not saying I am perfect.  It has taken me years and lots of courses, assignments and analysing my behaviour to make sure the impact I have on children/students I teach is a positive one.  Sometimes I get it wrong and feel like kicking myself but self-reflection is a great tool to put you on the path to getting it right.

Angela Mitchell (right) runs the Kip McGrath Education Centres in Cambuslang together with Lesley McAteer (both fully qualified teachers).  To contact us, please click on the photo to take you to our main website or call us on 0141 646 2314.

Sources and useful links for this Blog




National Literacy Trust Survey Reveals Almost 4 million children in UK do not own a book – What can we do?

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Concerns about Childrens’ Literacy in the UK

In September 2011, The National Literacy Trust undertook a survey of school aged children across 111 schools in the UK.  Worryingly, it suggests that 33.2% of children (approximately 3.8 million) in Britain do not own a book.  This has shifted dramatically since 2005 when 1 in 10 children owned a book compared to 1 in 3 in 2011.  The survey reveals that girls and children from wealthier areas were more likely to own a book and that these children were more likely to excel at school.
As highlighted on the BBC website  on 5th December 2011, Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said the steep rise in the number of chilren without their own books was of particular concern. This is what he had to say:

He said: “We know there is a direct correlation between book ownership and childrens’ reading abilities”.

  • “With one in 6 in the UK struggling with literacy it is very worrying that many children could be missing out on opportunities to develop these essential skills.”
  • The trust said that children who owned books were more likely than others to read every day, and that book ownership had a clear link with reading ability.
  • Of the children and young people with books of their own, more than half read above the level expected for their age, with fewer than one in 10 reading below the level.
  • The survey also revealed links between reading ability and receiving books as presents.
  • About a fifth of children said they had never been to a book shop or a library.
  • But the survey also showed that reading any type of material, for example magazines, outside class at least once a month was also associated with greater reading attainment.
  • In light of these findings, The National Literacy Trust have launched  the Gift of Reading this Christmas by asking the public to make a donation which could give a disadvantaged child a book of their own for the first time.You can buy the ‘gift’ for yourself or give the unique present to the booklover in your life. Those giving the Gift of Reading will be able to choose an exclusive Christmas card designed by a children’s author including the wonderful Julia Donaldson & Alex Scheffler who created the Grufallo.
  • To support this wonderful cause and read the original report, please visit the National Literacy Trust website.

Why is this happening?

One of the findings of the National Literacy Trust Survey is that poverty is a factor in children not having access to books.  I don’t think poverty is really the issue here.  Many children from lower income families have access to expensive games consoles, dvds etc.  Books can be cheap.  Going to the library is free and there are numerous charity shops and book fayres where you can pick up childrens’ books for pennies.  I would suggest that lack of the parents’ education have reflected on their children.  If parents were never encouraged to read then why would they consider encouraging this to their children?  This survey shows that children who read at home are more likely to do better at school.  If a parent is not a reader, then they are less likely to gift books and put as much importance on it.  It is up to the parents and family members to encourage reading at home from an early age.

A major concern to the Trust is the steep decline in readers since 2005. This apparently could be in part to blame with the boom in information technology.  Children are texting, on social networking sites, playing computer games, watching dvds and surfing the web.  Of course this is going to have an impact on the next generation.  There is so much more access to entertainment now than the previous generation had.

However, children are missing out out so much by not reading books at home.  This is what one of our students at Kip had to say:

Why I love books by a 9 year old Kip Student.

Heather, aged 9

I enjoy watching films on dvd, but I think reading is much better as I can imagine all the characters so vividly and it boosts my imagination.  Reading means a lot to me as I like to read in bed instead of watching films.  I love to imagine what the characters in a book look like in my mind.  When I am reading a good book, I can read for hours but if I fall asleep, I can pick up the story in my head the next night”.

“I love to read books.  My absolute favourite book is called ” Lily Alone” by Jacqueline Wilson and is about a family of young children and their mum (no dad).  Lily is eleven and the oldest.  Her mum leaves her with her brother and sisters to go on holiday with her new boyfriend, Gordon,  but her mum thinks her ex husband Mikey is taking care of them when he did not receive her message properly and Lily is left alone with her younger brother and sisters and is forced to run away and hide in the park in fear that she would be found and taken into care.”

My Experience as a Teacher

I have been a teacher for over 40 years and since 1999 I have been the person who runs Kip McGrath Education Centres in Scotland.  I also continue to run and teach in my own Tutoring Centre in East Kilbride.  I have found that my own experiences since 2005 reflect the findings of the National Literacy Trust and that the reading age of children is on the decline.  This has been a worry for myself and our other Centre Teachers for a number of years in Scotland.  It will be interesting to read what others have to say on this subject.

As a teacher and grandmother to a 4 and 6 year old, I love getting children to realise why they are learning to read as it is so much fun. Even if you are out visiting with your family, no-one thinks it’s rude if you are reading!!

I always give books and book tokens to my family and I think this is very important.  Of course, no matter how hard we try there will always be those children who are reluctant to pick up a book.  That is why we have compiled the list below of some of the most recent magical books which have been highyl accclaimed to inspire even the most reluctant of readers.

Books To Inspire Reluctant Readers:

Early Readers

Elephant & Piggie – We are in a Book! by Mo Willems – Part of the “Learn to Read” series, this is the latest and possibly funniest story yet about Gerald the Elephant & Piggie.  Be prepared to laugh out loud (children and parents alike) when the pair discover that they are actually in a book and can control what the reader says.  What happens when they discover that there are only so many pages left?

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein It’s time for the little red chicken’s bedtime story —and a reminder from Papa to try not to interrupt. But the chicken can’t help herself! Whether the tale is HANSEL AND GRETEL or LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD or even CHICKEN LITTLE, she jumps into the story to save its hapless characters from doing some dangerous or silly thing. Now it’s the little red chicken’s turn to tell a story, but will her yawning papa make it to the end without his own kind of interrupting?

Princess Poppy Series – The Tooth Fairy by Janey Louise Jones –A brilliant fairytale adventure that little princesses will love, Princess Poppy – The Tooth Fairy comes complete with a lovely pink tooth bag and is guaranteed to reassure little ones when their teeth come loose! With adorable illustrations and an easy to read and easy to follow plot, this is a wonderful bedtime story that kids will ask for time and time again. Poppy is desperate for a visit from the tooth fairy but her teeth just won’t come loose!

Middle Readers

Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng – Molly Moon is treated like dirt in her squat English orphanage, with only her pal Rocky, starry Qube soda ads, and the library stacks to give her comfort. After she discovers Hypnotism: An Ancient Art Explained in her favorite library spot, Molly begins learning the ropes and takes mental control of Petula, the orphanage’s grumpy pug dog, and the nasty staff members. But when Molly finds out that Rocky’s been suddenly adopted in New York, she hypnotizes her way to the city, into Broadway stardom, and — unfortunately — into a wicked professor’s plot to rob a high-security bank. Thankfully, though, she and Rocky finally meet up, and with a few surprises, the two hatch a plan to set things right for themselves and for their orphanage.

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams

Another hilarious and moving novel from bestselling, critically acclaimed author David Walliams, the natural successor to Roald Dahl.  A story of prejudice and acceptance, funny lists and silly words, this new book has all the hallmarks of David’s previous bestsellers. Our hero Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma’s house. She’s the boringest grandma ever: all she wants to do is to play Scrabble, and eat cabbage soup. But there are two things Ben doesn’t know about his grandma. 1) She was once an international jewel thief. 2) All her life, she has been plotting to steal the crown jewels, and now she needs Ben’s help…

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Twelve-year-old Lanesha lives in a tight-knit community in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. She doesn’t have a fancy house like her uptown family or lots of friends like the other kids on her street. But what she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, her fiercely loving caretaker, wise in the ways of the world and able to predict the future. So when Mama Ya-Ya’s visions show a powerful hurricane – Katrina – fast approaching, it’s up to Lanesha to call upon the hope and strength Mama Ya-Ya has given her to help them both survive the storm.

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz -F0rget everything you know about Hansel and Gretel. What you were told was the lite version, where all the interesting violent bits got cut out, or so the omniscent narrator of A Tale Dark And Grimm would have us believe. AND YOU GUYS, A Tale Dark And Grimm is WAY more kick ass, than the Hansel and Gretel we remember .

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz – What would happen to a fairy if she lost her wings and could no longer fly?  Flory, a young night fairy no taller than an acorn and still becoming accustomed to her wings — wings as beautiful as those of a luna moth — is about to find out.

Older Readers

Artichoke Hearts by sita BrahmAchari – Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic and outspoken family where it’s not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie’s health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her, and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past and has grown hardened layers – like those of an artichoke – around his heart. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her. This is an incredibly insightful, honest novel exploring the delicate balance, and often injustice, of life and death – but at its heart is a celebration of friendship, culture – and life. This book is the winner of the 2011 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize.

Rise of the Wolf – Werewold by Curtis Jobling ‘You’re the last of the werewolves son. Don’t fight it…Conquer it.’ When the air is clear, sixteen year-old Drew Ferran can pick up the scent of a predator. When the moon breaks through the clouds, a terrifying fever grips him. And when a vicious beast invades his home, his flesh tears, his fingers become claws, and Drew transforms …Forced to flee the family he loves, Drew seeks refuge in the most godforsaken parts of Lyssia. But when he is captured by Lord Bergan’s men, Drew must prove he is not the enemy. Can Drew battle the werecreatures determined to destroy him – and master the animal within?

Whether it’s Hogwarts or Anytown High – Help your child Make a magical Transition from Primary to Secondary School

First Day of High School

Most adults can remember their first day at High School.  It was an exciting time but also a little scary.  As the last two weeks of the holidays fly past, parents and children are turning their thoughts to the new academic year.  New blazers, ties, shiny black shoes and the bit I loved best; getting a school bag and pencil case and filling them full of the most colourful and exciting pens, pencils and erasers that I could find.

If I’d been to France or Italy during the holidays, I’d be spoilt for choice. They have such lovely stationery items over there.  Even as a teacher, I could never resist buying lots of fun gadgets for my classroom and I even picked up a cool mushroom in Florence this summer for my Kip McGrath Education Centre in Musselburgh.  It has a rubber for its head and sharpener for the stem.  These things always put the ‘cool’ into school for me. I love languages and the French have a great word for back to school – la rentrée the return.

Problems Children Face with the transition from Primary to Secondary School

However, for children who are moving up from Primary to Secondary there is no return to that safe little haven where they learned to read and write.  As young adolescents it is upwards and onwards and for many children, as well as being an exciting time, it can be somewhat frightening to say the least.  For parents and grandparents too it is an emotional time.  The little ones are growing up fast and change is in the air. We know that change has to be managed carefully so it is important to make the transition as smooth and as stress-free as possible.

As a teacher of 20 years experience, here are some of the most common problems I found children encountered in the first few weeks of High School and a few suggestions as to how to overcome them.

Scared of getting Lost

One of the biggest challenges is the size of the new school.  As little 8 year old Sana who attends my centre would put it, whether it’s a ‘Harry Potter’ school or the local Comprehensive, children have very genuine concerns about the size of their new school.  “Lots of corridors to negotiate, staircases and perhaps tunnels too”. The school day is structured differently with bells ringing at regular intervals and movement around the building.  They worry that if they don’t get to the next class on time, the teacher might be cross and yell at them and even give them detention.  As a teacher, the most tears I had to dry up during the first few days were those of poor little lost souls looking for the music department but ending up goodness knows where instead!  What a state they could get themselves into!

Angela’s Kip Tip

Most schools have excellent transition programmes and your child should have had a visit to the High School already.  If they haven’t or you are still worried, phone the school and ask if you can pop back in again.  Chances are that Admin staff or Senior Management will be around in last week of the holidays and it may be possible to take a quick trip round again.  If not, drive past it or go into the car park a couple of times so that the building doesn’t look quite so threatening.

Make sure they know their right from their left. It’s amazing how many children have difficulty with this and it doesn’t help when they are trying to follow directions or to read a map of the school.  If they get lost, encourage them to ask a teacher or senior pupil to help them.  The younger pupils make a great game out of sending new pupils in the wrong direction deliberately! You’ve been warned!

Help them to understand the timetable. Explain that the school day will be structured differently and that it is important to move quickly from one lesson to another and not waste time.  Advise them to write the name of the teacher and the classroom number next to the subject.  It makes it impossible to help a child if they don’t know who their teacher is or what classroom they should be in.

Try to familiarise them with the day ahead.  Talk to them about it. For example discuss that tomorrow they will do a period of English, then Maths, then French then PE etc.  Then of course prepare that school bag full of all the things they will need and don’t forget the PE kit!

Try to avoid going to the toilet in between lessons and encourage them to follow the majority of the class to the next period.  There is safety in numbers!

If they get badly lost, rather than wander around the school, advise them to report to the school office immediately where a member of staff will make sure they get to class.

Lack of Confidence

Your child becomes anxious and starts to worry a lot.

Angela’s Kip Tip

Acknowledge the fact that your child might feel nervous but reassure them that it is normal to feel slightly anxious and that the chances are that everyone else is feeling a bit worried too.  Keep telling them that everything will be fine.

If they can’t get to sleep at night, try to discuss all the good things that have happened at school and praise them for all the things they have managed to do so far.

We all know that a drink of chamomile tea before bedtime can help us to sleep.  A recent report I read suggests
that it also alleviates anxiety so why not give it a try?

If after a few days they are still unhappy and you begin to worry and wonder about whether you should contact the school, then you should contact the school.  The Guidance teacher or Year Head is the person to discuss any worries with and the sooner you sort it out the better, especially if you suspect bullying.

Feeling lonely or doesn’t know anyone

At first it can be difficult to make the right friends.  Chances are that there are plenty of clubs on offer at school either at lunchtime or after school finishes.  If your child is a lone child, then encourage them to join some clubs in order to get to know other children and make friends.   Guidance staff can also play a useful role here.  Eventually they will make lots of friends but it is important in the first few weeks to be there for them.  If you can make arrangements to leave work a little earlier during the first week, that could make the world of difference to an anxious child.  If you have time, consider getting involved in the PTA so that you also get to know some of the other mums and their children.

Getting into Trouble because they forget things

One of the biggest changes your child will probably face is having to take more responsibility for themselves and become more independent.  They may have to look after a bus-pass, lunch money, musical instrument, library books, sports kit, mobile phone, keys etc, etc.  It’s usually best not to take things into school that you don’t need or would be sorry to lose.  Help your child devise strategies for emergencies so that they know what to do if something goes wrong.  Make sure that timetables are checked and school bags packed the night before to avoid the whole family getting stressed in the rush to set off in the morning. Make sure you regularly look in the school bag for notes and newsletters from the school.  Do you need to fill in a form or sign some homework? Bag-mail hardly every makes it home.

Finding the work too hard

This is one of the major causes of unhappiness at school.  Children attending High School can come from up to 20 different feeder Primary Schools in some areas.  The mix of academic ability in one class is likely to be very wide ranging and there may be gaps in your child’s basic numeracy and literacy causing difficulty across the whole curriculum.  Perhaps they are studying a foreign language and others have started earlier than them at Primary school.   Some schools may broadband  classes and some may set based on information sent up from Primary School.

There may also be some sort of assessment within the first few weeks of term.   Your child may feel out of their depth and have gaps which need to be plugged. Likewise they might find that they are not being stretched enough due to the level of the class and are beginning to lose interest. 

Angela’s Kip Tip

Don’t wait until the first parent’s evening. That could be a whole year away or longer! You will need to act quickly.  If  your child is in a class where the work is too difficult he/she will struggle and the situation is likely to get worse rather than better.  If they have been placed in a good set and you are reluctant for them to be moved down, then you must get extra support and the sooner you act the better.

Ask to speak to the Learning Support Dept. or Year Head if you fear your child may have a specific learning difficulty. If your child has special requirements that teachers should be aware of (eg needs overlays because of dyslexia or should wear glasses in class) check that the information has indeed been passed on to all the teachers.  Schools are busy places and teachers are bombarded with information.  Things do get overlooked so take steps to check that arrangements are in place.

Make sure your child can see the board and that there is not a problem with eyesight.  Book an eye test if necessary.  If the class is noisy, suggest that they sit as near the front as possible so that they can hear the teacher.

Still Have Concerns?

If you continue to be worried, phone Kip McGrath for a no-obligation discussion and free assessment.   At our Musselburgh Tutoring Centre in Edinburgh we have a team of fully qualified and experienced teachers who use their skills and expertise every day to help children achieve their full potential.  We are always happy to help and peace of mind is only a phone call away. Subjects such as maths and foreign languages are linear and it is best to nip problems in the bud as soon as possible.  It’s amazing what can be achieved with just a few months on the Kip Programmes.

The October break will soon arrive and your child will have settled in well to their new school.  Making the transition to secondary school is a big step for the entire family but one to be embraced and celebrated.  A whole new future is opening up.  Exciting subjects to learn, foreign trips to go on, lots of new people to meet and talents to be uncovered.  Enjoy Secondary school everyone and the very best of luck!

Angela Giglio is an experienced teacher, former Head of Department and mum.  Angela runs the Kip McGrath Education Centre in Musselburgh, Edinburgh., the trusted tutors in Edinburgh.

SQA Exam Results 2011 – The best results ever!

Best ever SQA Exam Results for 2011 – Congratulations to everyone at Kip McGrath Livingston and Balerno, the trusted Edinburgh Tutors

I am Pip Watt and I am the Centre Director of the Kip McGrath Education Centres in Balerno, Edinburgh South and Livingston.

I am very overcome with emotion having spoken to parents and exam students today.  Every single exam student got the result they were looking for.  It has been our best results’ year ever.  Congratulations to every single student.  I and my tutors are as proud of you all as your parents must be.

I wanted to share some of the comments I have received today.

A happy father said “OMG.  Graham got a credit 2 and Craig got an A! Thanks,thanks,thanks!  I can’t begin to tell you what you have done for my sons who both hated English.  Craig was told he was going to fail Higher English by the school and thanks to you he got an A!  Graham got a Credit 2 and now English is his favourite subject.  I have no qualms about recommending your services to the school.”

Sam was part of the SQA exam results’ blunder and received a text message the day before saying he had passed all five Highers with an A pass!  Convinced it was a spam email or hoax he didn’t tell me until today. “Thank you Pip.  I must have pulled a blinder on the day. Without your help with Higher English it would have been 4 A passes and a fail!

“S” failed her prelim in Intermediate English and came to Kip McGrath.  She got a B and is coming back this term to do Higher English.

Barbara’s daughter has been coming to Kip McGrath for extra tuition in Higher English and Maths.  She got an “A” for both.  “I would like to thank you Pip and all your outstanding team of tutors for the excellent service you provide.  It was worth every single penny!”

John’s son Liam was advised by his school that he wouldn’t pass Higher English but he was determined and came to our Livingston.  He passed with a C.  He also got an A in Intermediate 2 maths.  “Thank you for all your help.  He couldn’t have passed without your support and guidance.  The whole family are absolutely delighted!”

“Thank you so much!  Cara got a ‘B’.  I will definitely be sending my son next term!”

Vicki got an A in Intermediate 1 Maths.  Vicki’s mum said “Thank you for all your help and encouragement.  Vicki will be back next term!”

I have a bottle of champagne on ice!  There are a lot of happy people in Balerno and Livingston tonight!

Next term will be starting on 17th August and we look forward to the return of our students!  For those students who are going on to College and University, we wish you every success and expect to hear regular updates on your progress!

There are still places available for next term although word is spreading fast!  We also offer tuition in English and maths to primary students from age 5.  If you have any concerns regarding your child’s education, please contact Pip Watt on either 0131 449 9101 or 01506 418191. Alternatively, you can arrange a free educational assessment by clicking on the links for Livingston or Balerno, Edinburgh South

If you would like to join us on Facebook, please like our Livingston and Balerno Pages.

Helping Children Deal with Disappointing Exam Results

Our guest blogger this week is Angela Giglio, Centre Director of Kip McGrath Education Centres in Musselburgh, Edinburgh East

After many years of thinking about it, I have finally taken the plunge and am writing my very first blog!  Like many novices, I am dipping my toes into this unknown ocean with a certain amount of trepidation. One wonders what to write about and whether indeed anyone will be interested enough to read on. There are so many “experts” out there and it seems that the whole world and his dog know all there is to know about mostly everything. What if my work isn’t as good as others? What if after all the hours of research and effort I don’t get the results I want or perhaps deserve? What if I am disappointed?  What if I have poor results?

This got me thinking about all the teenagers who will shortly receive that long-awaited envelope containing their SQA exam results and how they might be feeling. Inside, a piece of A4 card from the Scottish Exam Board will make a judgement about their academic ability and announce its findings to the world Young hopefuls will be admitted or not to Higher or Advanced level courses. Dreams of gaining a university place and pursuing life-long ambitions will become reality or end up crushed. Doors will be opened and others firmly shut.

The more self-confident will no doubt rip the envelope open straight away and face the music whilst others might hold it in their hands for hours, just staring at it, in the hope perhaps that prayers or sheer will power might somehow make the print say what they want it to say. What an anxious time this is for parents and teachers too. Everyone has had a part to play in the preparation stages and we desperately want our youngsters to do well. If I can make one suggestion to parents, no matter how much you are itching to do so, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not open the envelope for your child! Unless specifically asked to do so, let them do that for themselves. One of the worst feelings in the world is trying your hardest at something but still falling short. How much worse is all of this in the modern world when not only do you have to share bad news with your parents but perhaps broadcast it on Facebook or tweet about it too?

Sometimes, when things don’t quite go our way we realise that we could have done things differently. But life isn’t always fair and we might have deserved better. This can make the bitter pill of disappointment even more difficult to swallow and cope with. In the case of school work, studying for months on end yet bringing in disappointing grades may make many students feel hopeless or helpless even though this is far from true. Everyone responds to disappointment in different ways. Identifying how we respond when the going gets tough helps us identify our strengths and weaknesses and equips us to face the future. Parents too may find it difficult to hide disappointment or anxieties but now more than ever, it is important to be strong and show support, encouragement and unconditional love.

The crucial thing is to act fast. If the results haven’t gone completely as we hoped, it is important to step back a bit and see the wider picture. What has happened has happened and we can’t change the past. What we can and must do is concentrate on the positive, learn from our mistakes and plan a future course of action. Look not just at the overall mark. Have we passed part of the paper or passed some of the internal assessments? We must be rightly proud of ourselves for the elements that we have passed but be determined to identify where we went wrong and make amends in future. Consider how much of what has happened was within our control and how much beyond it. Many Heads of Department or careers staff will be in school when the exam results come out and will probably be happy to give advice. If not, go and see them as soon as school starts up again. Overcoming the initial disappointment might seem tricky but the sooner you start focusing on your next steps the sooner you will start to quickly move forward and feel better.

If your child is feeling very low, try and help them to identify all the things that they have achieved in life so far. It sometimes helps to list these things and display them somewhere visible. Success is a mixture of many things and academic qualifications are just a small part of our worth as human beings. Is your child sporty, hard working, polite, kind, generous, tidy, fun to be around? Did they put effort into their exams, try their best and listen (even if was later rather than sooner) to advice? You could make up a family award for them so that they feel loved, valued and hopeful about the next steps. If you have more than one child taking exams, make sure to celebrate every child’s achievements to the same extent. Self-esteem may be very fragile at this time and it is important to boost it.

Okay, the results are what they are, we have celebrated or shed some tears, so what do we do now?

Worried about exam results? Childline can help.

In my experience successful students are those who strike a good balance between optimism and reality. To achieve your dreams it is important to make changes to what you do and how you challenge yourself. As the saying goes, if you always do what you have always done, you will always get the same results. The good news is that there is a great deal that you can do to turn your dreams into reality. They key to changing the future lies in planning for future success and then following through. Act fast and act now. If you found the subject difficult, get help.

At Kip McGrath we help thousands of children all over the world every day to achieve success in exams and we see first hand how easy it can be, given the correct support, to turn things around. If you didn’t really know how to prepare for your exams consider enrolling on a Study Skills course and learning how to learn effectively. Organise your space, make sure that you start your revision as soon as the new academic year starts – don’t let the work pile up and overwhelm you. Use the last few weeks of the summer holidays to start preparing for the next level. The leap can be huge! Go seek help the very moment you begin to struggle and don’t leave it until the first internal assessment or mock exam. Perhaps a gap year would give you a chance to research your options and take a breather. Just think of all the new and exciting pathways that may be open to you as you start again on a wonderful learning adventure.

But what if the exams have gone exactly to plan and you’ve got brilliant grades? First of all celebrate your success! Congratulations! You have achieved your objectives and should be rightly very proud. However, once you’ve done that, here’s a wee word of warning. Don’t rest on your laurels. My advice on planning applies to everyone. Start preparing for your next success now and like our Kip students make sure you get the new academic year off to a great start.

As I come to the end of my first blog, dipping my toes into the cyberspace wasn’t quite as scary as I first thought. The hardest thing was taking that first step and luckily, I know who and where to turn to for expert advice and support when I need it. As I continue my own learning journey, I will no doubt get feedback on my efforts and take action to learn from any mistakes. Learning is fun and even though occasionally there may be disappointments or setbacks along the way, the rewards we reap for persevering far out way any pitfalls.

At Kip McGrath our philosophy is that anyone can learn given the correct expertise and resources and I would like to wish all the young people out there, the very best of luck. Learning is a life-long journey and one that I hope you will travel long and successfully no matter what comes out of those little brown envelopes.

Angela Giglio
Centre Director at Kip McGrath Musselburgh